UMass Procedure to meet NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research Requirements


This document details new National Science Foundation (NSF) requirements related to “off-site” and “off-campus” research. The Office of Pre-Award Services (OPAS) is now required to certify that a plan is in place to address safe and inclusive working environments at the time a proposal is submitted. This will be accomplished by agreeing to a series of attestations which will be uploaded to the Kuali Research proposal record.

Effective Date: January 30, 2023


Table of Contents


It is NSF policy to foster safe and harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted. NSF’s policy recognizes that a community effort is essential to eliminate sexual and other forms of harassment in science and to build inclusive scientific climates where people can learn, grow, and thrive. Accordingly, for each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off-site, NSF requires the university, through the OPAS to certify that the organization has a plan in place for that proposal that describes how the following types of behavior will be addressed:

  1. Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; or
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly.

This plan must also identify steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment, e.g., trainings; processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture, e.g., codes of conduct; and field support, such as mentor/mentee support mechanisms, regular check-ins, and/or developmental events.

Communications within the team and to the organization should be considered in the plan, minimizing singular points within the communications pathway (e.g., a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone), and any special circumstances such as the involvement of multiple organizations or the presence of third parties in the working environment should be taken into account. The process or method for making incident reports as well as how any reports received will be resolved should also be accounted for.

The organization’s plan for the proposal must be disseminated to individuals participating in the off-campus or off-site research prior to departure. Proposers should NOT submit the plan to NSF for review.

Contact Information

Link to Required Kuali Build Form

Access the required Kuali Build Form (NSF Requirement for Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research Attestation and Approval Form).

Attestations for Faculty who are submitting a proposal with “off-site” or “off-campus” research

  • By submitting and approving this plan you are confirming to the best of your knowledge that all information is true and accurate and that you and your team are cognizant of UMass Policies and procedures related to the Title IX Education Amendment Act of 1972. More information.
  • This document and other relevant documents will be disseminated and discussed with all participants prior to commencement of the proposed activity(s).
  • Code of Conduct - Specify that abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; and conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly will not be tolerated by having all participants sign a field-specific code of conduct. In this code of conduct, provide examples of microaggressions, put-downs, and other subtle forms of hostile behavior, discrimination, and harassment, and then include them in the list of behaviors that will not be tolerated. More information found here and here.
  • Reporting - Make all participants aware of the avenues for reporting incidents of harassment in the field through the institution. UMass Amherst:
  • Review Cultural History and Interaction with the Public - If leaving the region, look into the culture, history, and current mindset of the location you are going to and discuss the potential for uneven distribution of risk with field participants. Research LGBTQ rights and laws in foreign countries, and if queer identity is deemed illegal in the country where fieldwork will take place, inform all members of the research party. Based on your findings, identify situations that may cause high risk for marginalized people, such as airports, asking for permission from landowners, and potential interactions with law enforcement.
  • Review Accessibility of Site Locations - Assess the accessibility of your field sites and discuss aspects of travel and access that may present an issue for persons of differing abilities. When possible, adjust your field plan to ensure that participants of all abilities may be able to access the site and participate in the planned field activities. This includes thinking about bathroom and personal needs for all participants. Are your plans inclusive for group members who may need accommodations such as interpreting, captioning or audio descriptions? More information found here.
  • Communication and Physical Safety- Ensure team training goes over all safety protocols when off-campus/off-site including health and safety, how to reach law enforcement, medical facilities, etc. Do not leave people alone in the field. If left alone, multiple forms of communication should be left with the solo individual (i.e., radio and cell phone, or cell phone and walkie-talkie). Share contact information of all group members. Through your team training, ensure each team member is aware to not participate or halt work that is unsafe without repercussions. Regularly check in with the team to see if members feel safe and included.
  • Working Conditions - Field leaders should offer a timeline every day of how they expect fieldwork to go, with the clear expectation that plans and schedules may change. Field leaders should also be aware of participants' time constraints due to personal or professional reasons (e.g., child-care, religious constraints on activities) and reasonably accommodate schedules accordingly. Roles should be clearly defined and rotated to ensure all team members are participating equally and understand their daily responsibilities. Housekeeping and administrative responsibilities should be included in this task rotation. This rotation should also include packing for and unpacking from trips.
  • Accommodations - Field leaders should assist to the best of their ability in securing individual housing/lodging options when requested for safety/comfort. Transportation will be provided for all participants to and from the field site. This includes covering transportation to and from the airport, and to and from the university if departing at unusual hours. Set reasonable work hours. This is different in every situation, but ensure people have enough time to recover from one day before moving into the next. First aid/medical training and kits should be provided by the university and should include basic trauma supplies (gauze, tape, EpiPen, etc.) and emergency gear (flares, water filtration, fire starter, etc.) as well as toilet paper/hand sanitizer and pads/tampons.